Karnataka Bans Release of Controversial Film ‘Hamare Baarah’ Citing Communal Tension

Bengaluru: In a significant move, the Karnataka government has banned the release of the Hindi film ‘Hamare Baarah’ for two weeks, a day before its scheduled premiere. The decision, announced by the Home Department on Thursday, followed intense pressure from various Muslim organizations who accused the film of defaming the community and misinterpreting verses from the Qur’an’s Surah al-Baqarah.

The film, starring veteran actor Annu Kapoor, was set to release on Friday. However, concerns raised by Muslim groups from different districts and taluks prompted the state government to act, fearing that the film could disturb law and order and incite communal disharmony. These groups claimed that the film’s trailer, released on May 30, depicted uncouth crude and communal propaganda, potentially “poisoning” the minds of viewers.

The Home Department’s order, issued by under-secretary B.K. Bhuvanendra Kumar, bans the screening of the film and its trailer across all media platforms, including electronic media, social media, cinema theatres, and private television channels. The ban, imposed under sections 15(1) and 15(5) of the Karnataka Cinemas Regulation Act, 1964, will remain in effect for two weeks or until further notice.

Although Section 15(2) of the Act requires the government to notify filmmakers before imposing such a ban, the order stated that time constraints prevented this step. The film’s director, Kamal Chandra, and producers Birendra Bhagat, Ravi S. Gupta, Sheo Balak Singh, Sanjay Nagpal, and others reside outside Karnataka, complicating the notification process.

Adding to the film’s troubles, the Bombay High Court has also stayed its release until June 14. The court has instructed the formation of a committee, including at least one Muslim member, to review the film and report on its content. This action underscores the contentious nature of the film, which tackles themes of overpopulation—a subject rarely explored in Indian cinema.

Annu Kapoor, the film’s lead actor, has expressed frustration over the premature judgments against the film. In an exclusive interview with News18 Showsha, Kapoor urged critics to watch the film before forming opinions. “At a personal and an impersonal level, I’m an atheist. My director and producers believed I was the right person to bring their vision to life. Films are a make-believe world, and my job is to justify my art,” he stated.

Co-actor Manoj Joshi also defended the film, emphasizing that it was not created to target any religion. Speaking to ANI, Joshi highlighted the film’s focus on crucial social issues such as education, employment, women’s respect and empowerment, and overpopulation. “In any society, there should be no disrespect to women. A woman is not an object; she should be respected, as has been the tradition in India,” he added.

‘Hamare Baarah’, previously titled ‘Hum Do Humare Baraah’, was renamed following a directive from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). The film, produced by Radhika G Film & Newtech Media Entertainment, was eagerly anticipated for its bold narrative and thought-provoking themes.

As the debate continues, the film’s future hangs in the balance, with both supporters and detractors awaiting the outcome of the governmental and judicial reviews. The Karnataka government’s decision highlights the ongoing challenges faced by filmmakers in navigating the delicate balance between creative expression and communal sensitivities in India.

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